Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: After what happened at WrestleMania 13, Bret Hart decided that American wrestling fans are full of shit and can kiss his ass. He’s got a point. Shawn Michaels, representing the most American parts of America, responded with “we have a thing called FREE SPEECH” and “if you don’t like it, you can just gyettt out!” He also revealed that the kitty said, “tough titty,” which was weird.
If you haven’t seen this episode, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Check out all the episodes you may have missed at the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War and Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag pages. Follow along with the competition here.
Notable Re-post: If you want us to keep doing retro reports, share them around! And be sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what it should say on Bret Hart’s tombstone. Stone Cold Steve Austin has thoughts on that later in the program..
And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War for March 31, 1997.
Best: Raw Is Like A Thorn In Your Eye
The March 31, 1997 edition of Raw is the first to use ‘Thorn In Your Eye’ by WWE Superstars & SlamJam, our choice for the best Raw intro theme ever. Finally, Raw is War is Raw is War.
One day we’ll find out the real lyrics, which are definitely not the “I’ve seen the donut” version you can on wrestling lyric sites. I’ve always sung SOUL OF BEEF! and I’m not gonna stop now.
Best: Applying Foundation
The first and most important thing to happen on this week’s episode is another good-to-great Owen Hart vs. British Bulldog European Championship match that ends as a No Contest due to a mutually agreed-upon STERN TALKING-TO. Not sure “the match was thrown out due to lecture” has a classification in the record books, but whatever.
Bulldog and Owen are about to kill each other with a steel chair when Bret slides in, diffuses the situation and launches into another amazing promo about how American wrestling fans have turned them against each other because they hate families and love Jerry Springer. It’s so good:
It’s also incredibly Canadian, with Bret pronouncing “Owen” like “Oy” and saying he stood up to one of Oy’s teachers when he was just “tur-teen.” Everybody’s perfect here, but especially Owen Hart. Dude is fake crying into his singlet because his brother reminded him that he used to dress him before school, and because he and Bret are the only people in his family who are actually good at wrestling. The crowd boos them the entire time, which perfectly illustrates Bret’s point: they don’t want to see people getting along and treating each other well, they want them at each other’s throats and smashing each other in the face with chairs. They end up group-hugging, and Bret side-eyes the entire crowd in spectacular fashion. Look at this thing:
Brutal. “You live in the UNITED STATES. You don’t know what it’s like to have a BROTHER-IN-LAW.”
This sets the tone for the remainder of the evening, with Shawn Michaels fanboy Vince McMahon being all, “you have to question the motives,” and former Bret Hart hater Jerry Lawler being moved to contemplative tears. Sunny shows up for color commentary and has to cradle Lawler’s head to make sure he’s okay.
Which is good timing, because the next match is WWE Cruiserweights. I wish I had someone to cradle me during these things. These guys would try an inside cradle and end up getting hit by a train.
Worst: Have Merced
This week we get our first look at EL MOSCO, “the mosquito.” His mask has a mosquito nose, but other than that he looks exactly like every other luchador WWF has brought in in 1997. Mexico really had a fire sale on black body suits with colorful armor panels. He faces Super Nova, who is blue, and that’s 100% of the character development we’re given. Hope you like the blue guy! Jim Johnston can’t tell them apart either, and gives every tecnico the same Mexico Guy music.
It’s honestly amazing how little anyone in the arena cares about this. The crowd is so quiet you can practically hear the wrestlers breathing. At one point Super Nova hits Mosco with a springboard into a sunset flip powerbomb and it’s just nothing. Zero reaction. It’s like wrestling’s not even happening. The announce team is so disinterested in explaining who these guys are or why they’re fighting that they spend most of the match going over the tour schedule, and we get two cutaways to Sunny hanging out with the announce team, entertaining herself. She goes over to the Spanish announce team and tells them the Spanish she knows. Vince is like, “this is a unique brand of excitement!” but he’s not gonna tell you what that brand is or why anybody’s excited about it.
The highlight is Super Nova going for a twisting nothing onto nobody.
Mosco hits a powerbomb and a terrible Arabian press for the win. The connection the AAA wrestlers have with the 1997 WWF audience makes Savio Vega look like Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Worst: May I Take Your Order
Speaking of Savio, he and Crush team up to take on the powerhouse team of Mike Bell and Adam O’Brien. You may remember Bell as that guy Perry Saturn wrecked for messing up a snapmare. O’Brien looks like a homeless Matt Hardy who fashioned his singlet out of an abandoned circus tent. The good news is that he grows up to be five-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, former PWG Champion and current WWE Performance Center trainer “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce. It’s a rare win for the Nation, and somehow doesn’t end with Ahmed Johnson in with a pile of lumber and awkwardly javelining it at everybody.
During the match, Shawn Michaels calls in from what sounds like a Burger King drive-through to say he’ll be back next week to confront Bret Hart about loving his family. THIS IS AMERICA, YOU EITHER HIT YOUR WIFE’S HUSBAND WITH A CHAIR OR YOU CAN JUST GYYYYET OUT.
Worst: The Two Awkward Trials of Jesse James
The Real Double J Jesse James — spelled “Jammes” sometimes, which makes me want to say he’s JESSE JAMMIES — takes on Jerry Fox, who looks like somebody bought Billy Kidman’s mom half a pair of Zubaz pants. Jammies gets two incredibly awkward moments:
1. During his entrance, Jesse brings out “six-year old guest manager Nathan Arnold,” a disinterested child in a Snoopy sweater, because I guess dude is leaving his career up to a pissed-off first-grader. Look at him, he looks like he’s on a death march. Jammies brings Nathan into the ring and awkwardly forces him around and croons to him about how he’s super horny and can’t wait to get home and fuck his country girlfriend. He puts his hat on Nathan at the end, and Nathan leaves as quickly as possible. Jammies stands around like, “wasn’t that great,” and everyone in the building is like, “why did that baby need to know about the Road Dogg’s booty call?”
2. After the match, the Honky Tonk Man presents Jammies with a “hair-loom” guitar and says he wants him to be the new Honky Tonk Man.
This gets weirdly sexual too, with Jammies talking about how he’s “breathless for a couple of reasons” right now and Honky talking about how much he wants to “consummate” the relationship. Because WWF babyfaces, Road Dogg leads Honky on and makes him think he’s going to play the guitar only to smash it. Gasp. Honky looks legitimately distraught at having a family guitar destroyed, and honestly he didn’t actually do anything to deserve it. He was being really nice and offering dude an opportunity. Jammies was like, “no thanks, asshole, I’m letting this SIX-YEAR OLD take me to the top!” Remember kids, in WWF logic if you’ve ever been a jerk before, you’re a jerk forever, and if you’ve already gotten beaten up for something you’ve done, you deserve endless beatings on top of that while people laugh at you. Because you’re NOT POPULAR and you should be ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.
Best/Worst: The Corny As Fuck PG-Ass Road Warriors Insults Of The Week
If you’re a regular reader, you may recall that despite being two giant muscular gang members from Chicago in spiked shoulder-pads, the Legion of Doom are actually two cornball dads with no creativity who think it’s rude to say words like “damn” and “ass” on TV. So they come up with the hokiest, least threatening ways you’ve ever heard to say they’re going to beat someone up.
This week, they’re threatening to knock the “doggy dumplings” out of the British Bulldog. Snootchie bootchies! After that, they promise to, “stinking kick the phlegm out of every corpuscle in that stinky Owen Hart’s stinky body.”
I’d like to know whether or not Road Warrior Hawk thinks Bret Hart is “poopy,” honestly.
Best: Undertaker Gets Revenged
Since WrestleMania they’ve been talking about how the next pay-per-view is called “In Your House: Revenge of the Taker,” but they haven’t explained exactly what he’s trying to get revenge for. Long story short, here’s a picture of the Undertaker being BURNED ALIVE.
Paul Bearer shows up to do the segment they ran out of time to do last week, where he says he’s sorry for everything and wants to be Undertaker’s manager/family friend who is secretly harboring a half-son in the basement/urn handler/whatever. Undertaker hasn’t forgotten the past year or so of Bearer hitting him in the face with funerary vases and hiring folks like Vader and Mankind to come kill him, and he knows Bearer only wants back in now because he’s WWF Champion again. So he strings him along a little and then punches him in the face. It’s exactly like the Double J/Honky Tonk Man segment, only with like, characters and reasons.
Mankind creeps out from under the ring and tosses a fireball in Taker’s face. See, it was a trap! Taker was validated in striking first! Honky didn’t have Billy Gunn crawl out of the hole in his guitar and try to waterboard Jesse Jammies or whatever. Sid shows up to run Mankind off, which sets up Sid vs. Mankind for next week. I mean, unless Sid has something better to do.
Worst: Way To Ban The Valets From Ringside
Goldust takes on Triple H in a match where Marlena and Chyna are both “banned from ringside,” allowing the men to finally, truly go one-on-one and see who the better man is. And then right before Goldust wins, Chyna just walks down to ringside, calmly climbs in the ring and kicks Goldust in the ribs drawing a DQ. So by “banned from ringside” did you mean “we told them not to come to ringside on the honor system,” or what? Don’t y’all have a bunch of security types who could’ve in theory seen a woman banned from ringside walking out onto the stage? Or when they see her slowly walking to the ring down the big ramp in the center of the goddamn arena and like, stood between her and the ring? Or a referee who could’ve walked over and told her to leave when she was slowly climbing in and nonchalantly walking over to boot a guy in the gut?
Anyway, the highlight here is Vince McMahon clarifying the Undertaker’s injuries, saying he’s learned Undertaker suffered burns in his “facial area.” Word?
Best: He Didn’t Quit
Before the main event, Vince McMahon stands around nervously while interviewing Stone Cold Steve Austin, who has a big bandage on his head still and wants to clarify a few things about the ‘I Quit’ match at WrestleMania.
1. He never actually said “I quit,” he didn’t even do the Tully Blanchard thing where he said “yes”; he passed out, and Ken Shamrock is a piece of trash for calling the match instead of like, waking him up and letting him continue.
2. Bret is bragging about leaving Austin a bloody mess, but Bret didn’t actually bust him open … Austin busted HIMSELF open when he fell into the guard rail. And yeah, Bret helped with momentum, but semantics are important when you’re a crazy threatening redneck.
3. Austin doesn’t care if you put him in the ring with a good guy (air quotes) and the fans boo him, or with a bad guy (air quotes) and people cheer him, he’s going to arbitrarily beat people’s asses. It’s the much easier to cheer for version of Shawn Michaels and/or John Cena’s “some of y’all like me, some of y’all don’t, when you buy a ticket to a WWE brand event you are allowed to cheer or boo whoever you want!”
4. He promises that the next time he and Bret get into the ring, he’s going to leave Bret looking ten times worse than Bret left him looking at Mania. Bret shows up on the TitanTron to rightfully be like, “I beat you twice by myself, I’m hanging out with my family now but there are two big instances of me destroying you and leaving you helpless so back off maybe.” Austin responds with the wonderfully macabre line, “One of these days I’m gonna look down at your grave, and it’s gonna say, ‘here lies Bret the Hitman Hart, the biggest piece of crap that ever walked the face of the earth, and the reason he’s laying here is because Steve Austin whipped his pink and black ass.” Man, I hope Bret Hart’s a cool enough dude in real life to put that on his tombstone.
Best: Jim Ross Calls Rocky Maivia “The Rock”
Hey, that could stick.
This week’s main event is a dream match that isn’t exactly a dream yet because The Rock is still the chubbier, better, somehow less-likeable Prince Iaukea. It’s Rocky Maivia defending the Intercontinental Championship against Bret Hart. How great would this have been if we could’ve fast forwarded The Rock a few years?
It’s mostly another vehicle for chaos, with an ENRAGED BY FAMILY VALUES Bret Hart putting Rock in a figure-four on the ring post and refusing to let it go, getting himself disqualified. Stone Cold runs out and kicks him off, giving us a super funny “Steve Austin saving the Rock” moment in retrospect, and Owen and Bulldog run out to attack Austin. That brings out the BUTT-SNIFFING FRICKIN’ Road Warriors to even the sides, and we end the show with a 6-man brawl that cements Rocky Maivia as the least important person of seven in his own title match.
Next week: Sid gets busy (not like that), Austin pulls double duty (also not like that), Ken Shamrock mounts Vernon Wells (also also not like that) and Rockabilly debuts. In a sexual way.